Next weekend, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. clashes with Marco Antonio Rubio in a middleweight clash for the so-called WBC middleweight title.
Hmmm. I thought Sergio Martinez was the true middleweight world champion?
Not according to WBC jefe Jose Sulaiman, who says Chavez is the real middleweight champion of the world.
Seeking to find out what the real world champion Martinez had to say, four of us took a road trip on Thursday from Riverside, Calif. to Port Hueneme, where the Argentine southpaw gentleman works his trade. Few work out more strenuously or with more focus than Martinez.
Around 3 p.m. we arrived early in hopes of catching Martinez before he engaged in his various physical routines. The weather was a perfect 80 degrees, the skies were crystal blue and the nearby ocean breezes left the air freshly coated with a scent of early spring.
An hour passed before Martinez and crew arrived in the boxing gym, led by his trainer and friend Pablo Sarmiento. First things first, Martinez-a former cyclist- jetted upstairs to a stationary bike to warm up his body before the pending boxing workout. When he finally entered the gym we exchanged greetings and Martinez asked us to meet for dinner afterwards if we had time. We agreed and departed for another part of town.
Down the road we headed toward Robert Garcia’s Boxing Academy in Oxnard. As soon as we stepped in the doors, there was Garcia himself to greet us, though he wasn’t expecting us.
Garcia, a former junior lightweight world champion and current world famous trainer, greeted us all and gave us a rundown on his extremely busy schedule. After closing the gym he was heading to Las Vegas to meet Nonito Donaire, Brandon Rios and others that very night. No wonder he looks in shape. Despite the graying hair Garcia looks fit and youthful. He could really fight up a storm in his heyday. I was ringside when he fought the late, great Diego Corrales, who often told me that Garcia was his toughest battle. This was said despite his fighting Joel Casamayor and Jose Luis Castillo.
“You know we have Kelly Pavlik training here?” asked Garcia. “He’s been doing real good.”
Ironically Pavlik was the middleweight champion when Martinez challenged him and was victorious on April 2010. Pavlik had defeated Jermain Taylor, who had defeated Bernard Hopkins, who held all of the middleweight titles including the WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF back in July 2005. You can say honestly that Hopkins was the dictator of all things middleweight and whoever beat him was the no-doubt middleweight champion.
That lineage was passed all the way to Martinez when he defeated Pavlik.
After speaking to Garcia and watching Rolando Reyes work the mitts in the ring, we returned to Martinez’s gym where he was patiently waiting in a car for us to return so that we could follow him home.
Martinez quickly showered and dressed at his seafront home and we headed out the door toward a restaurant in the city of Ventura called the Watermark. Inside the prim Renaissance styled restaurant we were greeted warmly by someone who recognized the middleweight champion.
Apparently Martinez regularly frequents the place, which has a remarkable ornate ceiling and upper floor dining area as well.
After an hour of dining and talking about various topics involving business and the world in general, we asked Martinez how he felt about Sulaiman’s letter sent to the boxing media around the world, especially the written comment: “Julio César Chávez Jr. is not a coward, as boxers are not cowards, and I am sure that he will respond to the spirit of Mexicans to prove with his valiant heart to fight to show that he is the real middleweight champion of the world, even when mercenaries try to tarnish his credibility.”
Martinez bowed his head slightly while he thought about the question I asked and slowly said with a slight sigh, “It’s very disappointing to hear those words. It’s not fair.”
Personally, this writer has known Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. since he first began training in a boxing gym in the horse grazing town of Mira Loma, a community formerly known as “Wineville” where children were captured and killed in the true story portrayed by Angelina Jolie “The Changeling in the 1920s.” The dark reputation from those crimes forced the city dwellers then to change the name from Wineville to Mira Loma.
Though undefeated, Chavez has not beaten anyone with the rightful ownership of the middleweight championship. When he defeated Sebastian Zbik in June 2011 he conquered a good middleweight contender, but Zbik had never fought the real middleweight champion Martinez. The Germany-based southpaw was literally given the title. Basically Chavez beat a fellow contender.
“His title is a big lie,” said Martinez with no hint of animosity or sarcasm. “I’m never going to fight Julio Cesar Chavez.”
Martinez said he read the note that Sulaiman sent and admitted the words were extremely hard to digest.
“It’s very hard to hear what he is says and everything that is going on,” said Martinez while sitting in the Ventura restaurant. “I try to fight the best fighters in the world.”
So far many of the so-called best fighters in the world have refused to meet Martinez in the boxing ring. Especially those considered by boxing fans to be champions like Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, or even Chavez.
Martinez is scheduled to fight United Kingdom’s Matthew Macklin, who many boxing experts call one of the most dangerous middleweights in the world.
“He’s the best option,” said Martinez, who has accepted no easy fights since fighting to a controversial loss against Paul Williams in December 2009. Since that fight the Argentine superstar has beaten Kelly Pavlik, Williams, Serhiy Dzinziruk, and Darren Barker. Those last two were undefeated when they entered the ring and promptly exited by knockout.
“I hurt my left arm in the second round against Barker,” said Martinez.
On March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, Martinez fights at Madison Square Garden in New York City against Macklin. It’s a tough fight and if he wins, what’s next?
“A fight with Mayweather would be my dream,” Martinez says.
Martinez is the true middleweight world champion regardless of what sanctioning organizations say or do. WBC, WBA, IBF or WBO are simply not deceiving the public. Who is really the mercenary?